Activities, Cape Disappointment State Park, Lewis and Clark National Park, National Parks & Monuments, State Parks, Oregon, United States, Washington, Work Travel Life

PNW Teaser – Part 4: Cape Disappointment & Everything along the way back to the airport

Our final day, and we were sad. The weather decided to match our mood, and it was pouring rain as we stepped out of our cozy room at Ocean Shores Resort. Such melancholy 😦

We would have a few hours of driving to reach our first destination of the day, Cape Disappointment. We set out in the rain, with me googling the United States’ tsunami warning protocols to pass the time. Being the early birds that we were, the donut shops were not yet open in Ocean Shores, so we opted to grab some Wendy’s and Starbucks in Aberdeen as we passed through. We got to Wendy’s five minutes too early, so took a stunning cruise through a Walmart parking lot to kill time. Then leaving Aberdeen we got lost on a few drawbridges to Janice’s delight. Ahhh, the little adventures!

Just rainy Pacific Northwest views as we cruised south
I made Janice do a U-turn for this. Turns out this roadside attraction in South Bend, WA, is NOT a real oyster (the world’s biggest real oyster is 14″ and is located in Denmark), just a cement sculpture representing the town’s oyster fishing/farming/hunting/mining/harvesting?? heritage (what DO you do with an oyster).
Beach Beef
Iceland…. urmmm, no, St. Mary’s McGowan Church, which was built in 1904 and recently restored in 2020. When I saw this church squealed and told Janice to slam on the brakes. No matter the country, here goes that Heidi, chasing after all the small historical churches!
The Columbia River across the highway from the church.
Arghhh I just love little churches like this!

Cape Disappoint State Park is situated at the end of Long Beach Peninsula, where the Columbia River reaches the Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Lewis and Clark National Park system, and is anything but a disappointment, despite the heavy fog we had for our visit! (It is named such due to John Meares’ thwarted attempt to find the Columbia River in 1788 when he just assumed it was a bay, and not the actual river, and gave up.)

Our first stop for this non-disappointing trip at Cape Disappointment was North Head Lighthouse. We suited up for the cold rain (yay for the emergency umbrella I randomly had in my car that we brought along), and I paid at the automatic machine for the “Discovery Pass,” which is the Washington state park fee. We mistakingly took the North Head Trail, but I realized fairly quickly that we were heading away from where the lighthouse should be.

North Head Trail… not the one we wanted to be on, but still a nice jaunt
Back on the right trail… this is the lighthouse keepers’ quarters
The trail out to North Head Lighthouse is fully paved.
I’m glad the sign was there to tell us what we were looking at!
North Head Lighthouse in the super foggy conditions. It was put into use in 1898, and is still active. Normally you can take a tour, but they are on pause during the pandemic.
This is as good of a selfie as I could get with the rain and wind!
Walking back, enjoying our last hours being among gigantic trees. We had just passed two small girls that looked like the twins out of The Shining, I kid you not!
I don’t know what this selfie is, haha! A disappointed face even though I was not disappointed?!
Finally saw an entrance sign as we made our way to our next stop.

Next up was a visit to Waikiki Beach (no, not the one in Hawaii, like Google Maps tried to send us to when I typed it in). I had fingers crossed we’d be able to see the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Alas, the fog was way too thick; instead we got to see a fresh shipwreck! Waikiki Beach is thought to be where Clark of Lewis & Clark fame found the Pacific Ocean in 1805. But way is it named as such? Well, a Hawaiian sailor’s body washed ashore here in 1811. The more you know.

No lighthouse views, just this wrecked fishing boat. Luckily everyone who was onboard is safe! A couple of folks who were on the boat were on the beach and said they struck a rock coming around the jetty and the captain managed to get them back this close to the shore. The US Coast Guard fetched everyone off the boat. And THIS is why I don’t get on boats very often, sounds so terrifying!!!
Waikiki Beach of Pacific Northwest variety
The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is RIGHT there, I swear!
The boat’s misfortune at least gave a good photo opportunity since the fog ruined the views :/
Lots of driftwood on Waikiki Beach

Our final stop in Cape Disappointment State Park was the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It took a bit of wayfinding (we accidentally took a sketchy one lane road up the hill to the accessible parking area), but eventually we made it. The main parking lot does require an uphill walk to the center.

Big tree on our way up to the interpretive center
“Fog is often seen here.” What?!
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment. Usually there’s great views of the ocean and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse but alas, fog is often seen here.
Edge of the continent sounds really dramatic for some reason!

There is a large exhibit at the interpretive center that we decided against visiting for the sake of time (though I wish we did, there’s an activity to see how full you can pack a canoe without tipping it, and that sounds like fun!). We checked out the great gift shop and acquired some souvenirs. There are also A LOT of passport stamps to be obtained here… so many, they number them and also provide a chair to sit in as you stamp all your books! You can get stamps for: North Head Lighthouse, Camp Disappointment Lighthouse, Lewis & Clark National and State Historical Parks, Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail (Camp Disappointment and Station Camp – two separate stamps), unique interpretive center one, and another center one for the Pacific Ocean. My first stamps for my Lighthouse Passport and plenty to help fill out my pages for this region in my US Parks Passport.

Our fill of Cape Disappointment complete for now, we headed south. Originally we had planned for a stop at the Goonies House in Astoria so Janice could do the truffle shuffle, but we learned there isn’t close parking and with the rain it didn’t seem fun to take a walk to see it. Also we planned on stopping at Cannon Beach, but we decided to skip it due to weather (and it worked out as it took foreverrrrrrr to get our food at Tillamook Creamery, and we did have a flight to catch in Portland, after all).

Always with the tsunami stuff!
Janice and I actually looked at staying here initially. We’re happy we didn’t.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge is the longest truss in North America at over four miles long. Also known as Heidi did not like this one bit bridge. I
What a weird, weird, bridge! I can’t believe people ride bicycles over. I really don’t think I could.
Hello, Astoria! So long, Astoria! That is how quick our trip through town was.

One thing we noticed immediately upon arriving in Oregon was the amount of trash all along the highway. Definitely a stark contrast to Washington, and honestly, it kinda soiled our view of the state. (A friend of mine would note the same thing when he visited a few weeks later, so I know it is not just Janice and I!) There was also a lot more traffic, especially around the busy seaside towns. We made a quick stop for gas and the bathroom, and realized you can’t pump your own gas in Oregon, which I remembered when I came out of the bathroom and Janice was commenting about how a guy asked if she knew how to do it.

Silver Point Interpretive Overlook. The fog helped us leave most of the views to our imagination. The rock formation is the “Jockey Cap.”
Silver Point Overlook. What is not pictured is all the trash that was covering the ground at the overlook 😦
We passed countless coastal towns as we headed south to Tillamook
A tourist train, mostly photographed for my friend Alan who is a train wizard.

Our last stop before the Portland International Airport would be the Tillamook Creamery. Janice and I both love cheese and ice cream, so why not?!

Well, in the end, this was a very big “been there, done that, never again” experience. It was crowded, oh so crowded, and the food at the cafeteria was very mediocre. Kind of a bummer… made me wonder if coffee at Sleepy Monk and a stroll along Cannon Beach would’ve been better after all!

The fact that we had to park at the back of a massive parking lot should’ve been the first sign this would be the Disney World of cheese… along with the massive lines for ice cream.
Though crowded, we were able to catch some glimpses of the cheese assembly line… or whatever you’d call it
Sigh. I’ve had better cheese curds from chain restaurants (cries dramatically). My grilled cheese was standard in level of tastiness (not mediocre, not amazing). Overall, overpriced and not worth the hype. We didn’t get ice cream because the line was so long… to be fair, I can drive to the grocery store right now and buy some if I really wanted.

Now all that was left to do was head back to Portland. As we crested the mountains the skies cleared and the rain stopped.

Such a change in scenery as we drove inland!

Portland traffic was Portland traffic, and we got turned around a few times and missed a few turns. Honestly, it was a relief when we finally made it to the airport! We said goodbye to our little red sports car, and enjoyed breezing through security and being in a pretty chill airport! So long, Pacific Northwest! I know I’ll be back for sure to climb your volcanoes and frolicked on your rocky beaches hopefully soon!

See ya, Portland!
We flew above lenticular clouds, which was exciting for a cloud nerd like myself! Though Mount Hood should’ve been on my side of the plane this time, clouds kept it hidden.

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